"The great threat to our prayer and our meditation on the Word of God is good ministry activity."
–John Piper in Brothers, We Are Not Professionals
Praying is hard. In fact, I personally don’t know too many people who don’t struggle with their times of prayer. Prayer would seem to be the most Christ-like thing we could ever do. Jesus prayed all the time. You’d think His followers would willingly do the same. And yet prayer is one of the most neglected aspects of our faith. And for an obvious reason: praying is hard. Recognize it. Get used to it.
Although for some people, prayer is a natural response to their belief in and worship of God, for many others, it feels anything but natural. Sure, we have this natural inner desire to pray. There’s no question about that. But actually carrying it out is a whole different matter. Because of our sinful nature, our natural tendency is to not pray even though we might really want to deep inside. It’s the battle of prayer. It’s the battle of our hearts.
I think the first step to winning the prayer battle is to simply recognize that it will probably always be like that: a battle. Every time the Spirit prompts you to pray, expect a small battle to take place in your heart. Expect resistance from your sinful nature. Expect distractions. Expect the desire to do something else instead of praying to the Almighty God. Expect a fight to take place.
Each day, I don’t come with pretensions anymore that my prayer time is going to come naturally. I already know that a battle in my heart will take place. I already know that I will want to do something else instead of praying. I already know that I will want to just idle around and do nothing of importance. I already know that distractions will abound. And they will abound at the most inconvenient of times. I’ve resigned to the fact that my times of prayer will always be a battle within my heart. And I believe the first step to victory is to simply recognize that it’s probably always going to be like that. But I prepare myself. I prepare myself to fight for my times of prayer. When the Spirit prompts, I will just have to learn to wrestle and to struggle, to tug and to pull, in the hopes that I will finally end up on my knees before the Lord.
Come with no pretensions that your times of prayer are going to come naturally. They may. But they may not. Your times of prayer will be battle zones. Fight for those times.
P.S. For more tips on prayer, click here.